North Georgia has an awful lot to offer visitors, from fantastic state parks and historic sites to an excellent array of hiking trails, waterfalls, lakes, and rivers.
But did you know that the area (White and Lumpkin Counties in particular) was home to the first major gold rush in the USA?
Or that the discovery of gold in North Georgia led some 15,000 prospectors to descend on the state in the late 1820s in hopes of striking it rich?
Gold and gem mining in Georgia may not be quite as lucrative today as it was 200 years ago.
But it still ranks alongside apple picking, horseback riding, and ziplining among the most popular family-friendly activities in North Georgia.
Read on for our guide to 10 fun places for Gem Mining in Georgia, including pricing for gem and gold panning and info on other family-friendly activities at each attraction.
READ MORE: The 40 Best North Georgia Cabin Rentals
Gem Mining in Georgia Guide
- Aska Mining Company (Blue Ridge)
- Consolidated Gold Mines (Dahlonega)
- Crisson Gold Mine (Dahlonega)
- Dukes Creek Gold and Ruby Mines (Sautee Nacoochee)
- Forsyth Mining Company (Forsyth)
- Goats on The Roof (Tiger)
- Huck’s Lost Mine (Blue Ridge)
- Outpost Gold & Gem Mining Co. (Helen)
- Pine Mountain Gold Museum (Villa Rica)
- Tellus Science Museum (Cartersville)
READ MORE: Top 20 Things to Do in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia
1. Aska Mining Company
8436 Aska Rd, Blue Ridge GA • (706) 258-4854 • Official Website
HOURS: Tues to Fri 10AM-6PM; Sat 9AM-6PM; Sun 9AM-5PM
Located in one of our favorite North GA mountain towns, Aska Mining Company offers visitors a fun, family-friendly getaway focused on gem mining in Blue Ridge GA.
You can purchase pre-filled buckets of mineral-rich Aska dirt, then sift through it for semi-precious gems like rubies, amethyst, garnet, emeralds, and tiger’s eye.
Buckets at Aska Mining range from $10 to $100, depending on the size and type of gems you want to mine for. All military members (both active & veterans) and first responders get 10% off.
If you want to make a relaxing day of it in the heat of summer, you can also try river tubing down the Toccoa River. No advance reservations are necessary.
Hungry for more? The Iron Bridge Cafe & General Store at Aska Mining Company has a full menu, or you can head downtown to sample some of the best restaurants in Blue Ridge GA.
READ MORE: The 25 Best Things to Do in Blue Ridge GA
2. Consolidated Gold Mines
185 Consolidated Gold Mine Road, Dahlonega GA • (706) 864-8473 • Official Website
HOURS: Mon to Fri 10AM-4PM; Sat/Sun 10AM-5PM
Proudly billed as “Dahlonega’s only underground gold mine tour,” this beloved North Georgia attraction is home to one of the oldest gold mines in Georgia.
The mountain town of Dahlonega was the primary site of the Georgia gold rush of 1829 (predating the one in California), attracting over 15,000 prospectors looking for their claim to the area’s riches.
Consolidated Gold Mines is a historic Dahlonega GA gem mining site, where visitors can go on a 40-minute tour of the mines 200 feet underground.
Afterwards, visitors can pan for gold flecks and gems such as rubies and moonstones.
You can also learn about the history of gold mining in Georgia from the professionals, and have the Gem Studio turn your finds into beautiful treasures you can keep.
Tickets for adults are $21.95, and children ages 3-12 are $14.95, which includes the interactive underground gold mine tour and a gold panning sample with instructions.
READ MORE: The 20 Best Things to Do in Dahlonega GA & Lumpkin County
3. Crisson Gold Mine
2736 Morrison Moore Pkwy, E Dahlonega GA • (706) 864-6363 • Official Website
HOURS: Daily 10AM-5PM
The oldest attraction offering gold mining in Georgia, the Crisson Gold Mine in Dahlonega GA places high priority on creating fun activities for all.
Guests can pan for rubies, emeralds, garnets, and more, with a free identification chart that helps you learn more about all the different gems you find.
You can also visit the historic 1880s Stamp Mill (the only working Stamp Mill still in use in Georgia), the gold mining equipment used to separate gold-bearing rocks from sand for processing.
Their Gem Shack can take the stones you mined for and turn them into a lovely piece of jewelry, perfect for remembering your Dahlonega GA gem mining visit.
Admission is $14.95 per person and includes a self-guided historic tour through Stamp Mill, a sample pan of gold dirt, and a 2-gallon bucket of gem-filled dirt to sift through. Special large group rates are also available.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Cabin Rentals in Dahlonega GA
4. Dukes Creek Gold and Ruby Mines
6145 GA-75, Sautee Nacoochee GA • (706) 878-2625 • Official Website
HOURS: Sun-Thurs 10AM-5PM; Fri-Sat 10AM-6PM
When you visit Dukes Creek Gold and Ruby Mines, you can try your luck panning for gold from a concentrated bucket that also includes rare earth gems like topaz, sapphire, and more.
At this Georgia gold mine, visitors can pan for gold from nearby Dukes Creek, which many claim to be the site of the first major gold rush in the USA!
Find a cool geode? Break it open and see what’s hiding inside! You may even unearth an old fossil and see if you can identify what the mysterious past has hidden.
After you’ve finished panning for gems, you can also visit their General Store for Native American art, jams and jellies from Dukes Creek Farm, and authentic gem mining supplies for your next adventure.
READ MORE: The 25 Best Things to Do in Helen GA
5. Forsyth Mining Company
414 S Frontage Road, Forsyth GA • (478) 994-2019 • Official Website
The beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia are an amazing place for camping and exploring the majesty of nature.
Forsyth Mining Company is located in the scenic Forsyth KOA Campgrounds, which is about halfway between the city of Atlanta and Macon.
After panning for precious stones and fossils at the Forsyth Mining Company, Forsyth KOA visitors can also check out the mini-golf area, play on the playground, and go fish at the catch and release lake on the property.
This KOA Campground is located in the heart of Forsyth GA, and has spots available for RVs and tents, as well as cabin rentals.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Campgrounds in North Georgia
6. Goats on The Roof
3026 Hwy. 441 S, Tiger GA • (706) 782-2784 • Official Website
HOURS: Fri to Mon 10AM-5PM; Closed Tue to Thu
Located of Hwy 441 between Lake Rabun and the town of Clayton GA, Goats on the Roof gets its wacky name from the animals that reside on top of this unique Georgia gem mine.
While gem mining is a popular activity here, the goats are DEFINITELY the real stars of the show!
Visitors can feed the goats with goat chow, pose with them for pictures, and take pictures with the company’s large black bear and goat statues.
Inside the gift shop, you’ll find gem mining kits available for purchase, as well as goat stuffed animals, goat’s milk lotion and soap, and other fun souvenirs.
You can also grab a bite from Big Mike’s Food Truck (owned by the proprietor of some of our favorite Clayton GA restaurants) and get desserts (like chocolate-covered bacon or nitro ice cream) from the Sweet Shop.
READ MORE: The 20 Best Things to Do in Clayton, GA
7. Hillside Orchard Farms
18 Sorghum Mill Drive, Lakemont GA • (800) 262-9429 • Official Website
HOURS: Mon 10AM-5PM; Thur-Sat 10AM-5PM; Sun 1PM-5PM
Located near Lake Rabun, Hillside Orchard Farm is best known for family-friendly activities such as a seasonal pumpkin patch, blackberry picking, apple picking, hayrides, and a corn maze.
But they also feature Little Mitcham’s Gem Mine, where young, aspiring miners can dig for emeralds, fossils, arrowheads, and other gems.
Guests can visit with Miner Jim and Donkey in their indoor gem mine and flume, where bags of sand and gems range in price from $5 to $20.
Make plans now to visit for their Fall Farm Harvest Day, which will feature live music, crafts, and local vendors set up around the farm.
Follow their Facebook page for more details on the annual autumn event.
READ MORE: Apple Picking in Georgia: The 14 Best North GA Apple Orchards to Visit
8. Outpost Gold & Gem Panning
7901 S Main St, Helen GA • (706) 878-5065 • Official Website
HOURS: Sun-Thurs 10AM-5PM; Fri-Sat 10AM-6PM
Located in the tourist-friendly town of Helen GA, Outpost Gold & Gem Panning has been around for more than 50 years now. So you could say they know a thing or two about gem mining in Georgia!
At their Helen GA gem mining site, visitors can pan for gold and gems, break geodes, and maybe even find some cool prehistoric fossils.
Their Gold Rush Paydirt bucket (which guarantees you’ll find gold) ranges from $12 for a quart to $250 for a 2-gallon bucket. Gem buckets range from $15 for a 1-gallon bucket to $80 for a family size 6-gallon bucket.
If you love what you’ve found, you can have it made into a timeless piece of jewelry at The Outpost to commemorate the occasion.
You can also visit their gift shop for a wide variety of souvenirs and artwork to bring home with you.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Rental Cabins in Helen GA
9. Pine Mountain Gold Museum
1881 Stockmar Road, Villa Rica GA • (678) 840-1445 • Official Website
HOURS: Tues-Sat 10AM-4PM; Final Daily Entry: 3:30PM; Final Daily Train: 3:00PM
Located on the actual site of a gold strike, the Pine Mountain Gold Museum is one of the best places for visitors to learn about the state of Georgia‘s 19th century gold rush.
The 4800-square-foot museum houses various exhibits as well as ruins of the gold mine itself.
Guests can also pan for gold, hike the property’s nature trails, and have a frightful time this fall at Pine Mountain Gold Museum.
For its 10th anniversary, the Pine Mountain Gold Museum will be hosting rides on its Ghost Train— a fun and haunting good time, with spooky railroad departures after sunset for $5.
Rates for panning for gold or gems are $7 per gold pan, $5 per gemstone pan, $15 per pan of their “Gemstone Jackpot,” and $50 per emerald bucket or rutile (a.k.a. Titanium Crystal) bucket.
READ MORE: The 20 Best Places to Live in the Georgia Mountains
10. Tellus Science Center
100 Tellus Dr, Cartersville GA • (770) 606-5700 • Official Website
HOURS: Mon-Sun 10AM-5PM
At the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville GA, visitors can explore an array of permanent and special exhibits to learn about a variety of scientific discoveries.
From dinosaurs to planets and stars, there is something here to peak almost anyone’s interest. Tellus also offers a Fossil Dig and Gem Panning activity that is free with your museum entrance fee.
Little miners can uncover fossils such as shark teeth and snail shells, or pan for colorful Georgia gemstones. You can even download/print a free Gemstone Treasure Map and bring it with you to identify your finds.
The Cartersville museum also has an observatory where you can view the night sky through a 20’’ telescope! Admission for non-members is $17 for adults, $13 for children ages 3 to 17 or students with ID $13, and $15 for seniors ages 65+.
All active Military members with ID get in free, and they offer 1/2-price admission for active-duty dependents with ID. -by Molly Frazier; lead image by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett